Why Cyclists Should Forget the Rice Cake and Bring a Sandwich Instead

cyclist with sandwich

Rice cakes are a staple of cyclists' fueling plan. We're not talking about the crisp, round type dieters love. These rice cakes are more like rice bars; homemade pressed rice with various add ins, the most popular being bacon or peanut butter and jelly. On the plus side, these snacks provide a good amount of easy-to-digest carbohydrates from the white rice and a little salt, fat and protein (good for long endurance rides), depending on what you add to the mix. They also use pantry ingredients most athletes have on hand at all time, and the instructions are generally straightforward.

However, if you've tried these, you know they are deceptively complicated.  If you make them too far in advance, the rice is too hard to be tasty. Making them immediately before a ride takes a solid half hour and results in too hot and/or sticky rice. If the rice isn't perfect and you don't press them well enough, they fall apart while you're eating them on the bike, leaving more rice on the pavement than in your mouth.

Save yourself the hassle of complicated ride fuel and opt for taking along a simple sandwich instead. Sandwiches offer the same basics as the rice bars; easy to digest carbohydrates from bread along with some salt, fat and protein, depending on the fillings you choose. They also can be made with simple ingredients you have on hand.

But where sandwiches really win is in the ease in making and wrapping them, taking about five minutes to create a good ride sandwich and wrapping it foil to put in your kit pocket. And although I have lost a chunk of sandwich innards to the pavement on occasion, generally they're much easier to consume while riding. While you're completing those long endurance rides, epic gravel adventures or fun fondos this off season, experiment with sandwiches for your fuels.

MORE: 4 Cycling Tips for Maximum Fuel and Flavor

Ride Sandwiches

When making a ride sandwich, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, consider food safety; you don't want to take uncured meats into a sweaty kit pocket for hours in the sun or bite into super wilted warm lettuce (unless you like that sort of thing...). Solve this by making your sandwich the first thing you eat on the ride or by picking ingredients that are less susceptible to spoilage.

Also, take your ride distance and intensity into account. Longer endurance rides will benefit from a balance of carbohydrates, protein and fat to promote muscle gains, satiety and prevent sugar gut rot. Rides with intense bursts will benefit more from a sandwich loaded with easy-to-digest carbohydrates. Depending on the size of your bread, consider wrapping each half separately to make consuming the sandwich mid-ride easier. 

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